Sunday, 5 December 2010

101. Back in the saddle

4th December 2010. Finally, a dry day.. and sunny too. Despite it being only 2°C this morning, I decided to get down to the club for an outing. I've just looked back and the last time I was out on the river was 13th November.. it having rained every single day since then. This morning we went out in a coxless quad sculler and did a relatively painless 12km (Running total 333km). I say 'relatively' because with not having rowed for 3 weeks or so my hands had softened up - so I'm now sat here with fresh new blisters.. With it being the first Saturday of the month, it was time for an apéro at the club after the outing.. As Basil Fawlty might have said, I mentioned France's crushing defeat last week at the hands of Australia once but I think I got away with it! 

Walked along the sea front at Biarritz this afternoon and around town. Christmas shopping seems to have clicked into top gear at last.

6th December 2010. It's 16°C here this morning and forecast to rise this afternoon to an unseasonable 19°C.. warmest in France. Bizarre weather. Meanwhile, up in the north, Cherbourg suffered badly from unprecedented flooding yesterday as a result of melting snow combined with a high tide.
We took the dog for a long walk through town and out along the Nive as it was a warm afternoon.

7th December 2010. It was reported on the TF1 news last night that the temperature at St Jean de Luz yesterday reached..... 22°C! 

Spent the afternoon in the garden taking down a hefty cypress tree that had got out of control. I've now got a stack of logs that I'm hoping someone down at the club can use. 

8th December 2010. We went to Dancharia in Spain this morning - just across the border from the lovely Basque village of Ainhoa, reputedly one of the most beautiful villages in France. I wouldn't argue with that. Dancharia is known for the numerous Ventas that are located there - Venta Peio is our favourite.. and with Christmas in mind we stocked up on drinks. As an example, a 2 litre bottle of Sir Edward's Scotch (made from 100% Scottish grapes*) was a tad over 16€.. (about £13.80 at today's rates). And contrary to the report in the above link, I don't find it a "rough and ready mixture" at all. I guarantee the writer of the above review couldn't identify it in a blind tasting with other blended whiskies.  The car indicated that it was a balmy 22°C on the way home.. Meanwhile the rest of France shivers. As does the UK.

* I jest!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death. It's impossible to imagine how he would have lived through the intervening years.. what new personas he would have lived out, what causes he would have espoused, what great new music he would have made. More here, herehere and here. RIP John.

9th December 2010. Stop Press: I bought a cheapo (17€ something for a litre - I should have known better) single malt whisky while in Spain yesterday - it was a new offering from Glen Grant called The Major's Reserve. To be honest, that's where it should be stayed - in reserve.. There's more than a faint whiff of varnish in the aftertaste - but, being charitable, that could just be me. Whisky preference is a matter of personal taste and we all have our favourites. Single malt whiskies invariably reward the drinker with a range of subtle and complex tastes and they benefit from being aged in the cask for 10 years or more for these flavours to develop. In the case of The Major's Reserve I sense that the distillery has cut corners on the aging process. I read somewhere on the internet that The Major's Reserve is 7 years old. Years ago I had a 5 year old Glen Grant (yes, another cheapo sold on the Continent) and it was exactly the same. By the way, there's no indication on the label of how old this product is which in itself should have rung warning bells. Don't say I didn't tell you..

Pray silence for The Balvenie
Nectar of the gods
I should have paid the extra and bought my usual favourite malt whisky - Glenmorangie. The other one I'm very partial to is the 12 year old Balvenie.. (hope Father Christmas is reading this!) but the Ventas in Spain don't seem to stock it. If you tried whisky once, and didn't like it; or if you've been drinking normal whisky all your life; or if you'd like to try a malt whisky but don't know enough about it to know what to ask for - the next time the person who usually buys you a present asks, "What would you like for Christmas, your birthday or whatever.." - don't answer suspiciously quickly - ponder a moment before replying either a bottle of Glenmorangie or Balvenie.. You'll thank me for this!

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